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Xbox has commanded the gaming marketplace for nearly two decades with major titles like Halo, Gears of War, and Forza. Though the original Xbox was a modest seller in the United States, its successor, the Xbox 360, was indeed what hit it out of the park. With more than 80 million consoles sold around the world, the Xbox 360 dominated living rooms during the seventh generation of consoles, cementing Microsoft’s place as one of the leading players in the world of gaming.
If you managed to score a new Xbox Series X or Series S over the holidays, you’re probably looking for some great games to play to test out your new console. Microsoft has spent the last generation making it easier than ever to play games, and they’ve continued the trend with their new Xbox lineup. From continuing their Games with Gold platform to Xbox Game Pass, getting access to games has never been cheaper. In fact, for some of the best games on Xbox, you don’t even have to pay a cent.
So, if you’re ready to start building a gaming library like no other, let’s take a look at fifteen of the best free games on Xbox Live.
From Respawn Entertainment, the development team behind Titanfall and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Apex Legends is one of the newer entries in the battle royale genre. Unlike Fortnite, however, Apex Legends puts the emphasis on teamwork, sending you and two other players into the game together to fight against nineteen other teams. As with any online multiplayer game, players can match with friends online or join random players to jump into the match. Once you’re on the ground, you and your squad will need to find weapons, armor, and other equipment while battling other players. Some of the movement options from Titanfall—which this game shares a universe with—make it into Apex, including zipline movement and sliding over inclined surfaces. This is the game for you if you’re looking for a solid competitive title that isn’t Fortnite. The best part is you don’t need to spend extra cash on an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play the game online since Xbox included it in the 50 titles they offer that allows you to play online without a subscription.
It’s pretty rare to find a free-to-play fighting game on any platform, but Brawlhalla has filled that need since the game’s launch in 2017. Developed by Blue Mammoth Games and published by Ubisoft, Brawlhalla is a 2D fighter with gameplay inspired by Super Smash Bros. Though the game has multiple modes available to pick from, most modes see you attempting to knock your opponent off the side of the stage by building up a damage meter, indicated by the color display around each character. Brawlhalla offers eight free characters each week in a rotating cycle, with 48 characters in total available to play. In addition to original characters, crossover characters appear from titles like Rayman, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Shovel Knight. Brawlhalla is the perfect game for both local and online multiplayer fights, with easy-to-learn controls and single-button specials.
Fortnite and Apex Legends might still live on top of the world when it comes to battle royales, but Call of Duty: Warzone has proven that established franchises can disrupt the scene just as much as smaller titles. A free-to-play mode available as part of 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Warzone arrived in March 2020 and immediately became one of the biggest games online today. Warzone‘s Battle Royale mode is similar to any other island-based battle game on the market today, but with a number of enhancements and improvements, including a reduced focus on add-ons and gadgets as compared to Blackout from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It’s a great alternative to Fortnite, complete with the same great shooting mechanics you’ve come to expect from CoD.
The only game on our list to be ported from mobile, Fallout Shelter is a simulation game based on the Fallout series. In the game, you become an Overseer of a Vault of your choosing in the Fallout universe, guiding and organizing the people living inside your Vault just as you would in any other sim-based game. Like with other titles, you must monitor the needs of your characters, giving them food and water and allowing them to work for you to generate power for the Vault. That may sound shallow, but the gameplay can get pretty deep. Each character features has a set of stats, which specializes your vault dwellers in various tasks. While your NPCs work away in your Vault, you can also spend your time making and building new varieties of rooms, which provide different use cases depending on what you need. It’s standard simulation game things, but the polish here is really unbeatable.
Fortnite is still one of the biggest games in the world, and you don’t need this website to tell you that. If you haven’t jumped on board the Fortnite train in 2022, it’s not too late to give it a shot. In Fortnite, you’re paired up with 99 other players for a 1v99 battle royale across an ever-changing environment. When you’ve landed, you’ll need to make your way through the map, gathering resources, weapons, and other materials from the ground. As you explore the area, a storm along the outside perimeter will push you closer and closer to the middle, forcing you to confront your greatest enemies and make a stance for survival against all else. Fortnite continues to offer new content all the time, and with Chapter 2 having just launched near the end of 2019, there’s never been a better time to return to the game.
Overwatch is still one of the most popular games in the world nearly four years after launch, and a promised sequel on the way seems to intend to keep that popularity going. Of course, Overwatch isn’t a free-to-play game, despite the loot box drops and microtransactions, so if you’d rather play something completely free that doesn’t require paying upfront, Paladins is that game. Though the developers of Paladins claim Team Fortress 2 is the inspiration behind the title, it’s impossible to miss the Overwatch similarities. The game’s primary mode, Siege, sees two teams fighting to capture the central point on the map, pushing a payload from it to the enemy base. Sound familiar? Regardless of any similarities between the two titles, that doesn’t stop Paladins from being an excellent free-to-play title on Xbox Live and one well worth downloading.
The wait for Diablo IV has been exhausting—so exhausting that when Blizzard took the stage in 2018 to announce a mobile spin-off rather than a full-fledged sequel to 2012’s Diablo III, attendees of Blizzcon booed the presenters. And while the company did tease the fourth title in the long-running dungeon crawler franchise, many fans have already moved on to the next best thing: Path of Exile. A free-to-play action RPG dungeon crawler first released on PC in 2013, Path of Exile borrows heavily from Diablo, to say the least. The game is played from an overhead perspective, as your player character explores caves, dungeons, and outdoor areas, following quests to gain XP and loot. Areas are randomly generated, which means the content is always fresh and new, and with a number of expansions under its belt, Path of Exile has a ton of content to dig into and explore.
If you haven’t heard of Phantasy Star Online 2, you must be new to gaming. Across the United States, gamers have asked for Sega’s massively-successful MMO spin-off to Phantasy Star to come west since it arrived in 2012, and while an English release was rumored for 2013, it never materialized. It took seven years and an influx of cash from Microsoft, but the game was announced for an English release at E3 2019, and the game remains one of the best MMOs you can play today. The game changed for the better in 2021 after getting a massive expansion titled New Genesis that completely reworks every aspect of the game, complete with a new story.
Rocket League is an odd game, one that you’ll likely either love or hate depending on your enjoyment of the controls. The pitch for Rocket League is simple: it’s soccer, but with rocket-powered cars.” That’s it: a game where you drive around, battling it out either solo or on a team, pushing and “kicking” a soccer ball into the opponent’s goal to score points, using blasters to reach speed, and drifting, flipping, and racing all over the map to hit the goal. The game has a serious eSport following, but it’s also great as a local party game thanks to its variety of modes, items, and power-ups, and the 4-player local co-op match mode that allows you to play the game like Mario Kart. The controls do take a bit to get used to, but largely speaking, Rocket League is a blast that anyone with a bit of patience can pick up and start playing.
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